What follows are my personal opinions and suppositions, I have intentionally not talked to anyone who might know because I don’t want to cover this as anything but an outsider.
Let me start by saying that the SubZero Festival was crazy awesome, the street blocks in front of AD and Works were jam packed with people all night from 7pm till midnight. And during the programming at Trieste I didn’t even dare to attempt to go in to get a beer. Now Trieste was in a bit of an odd place with respect to the stage in that they were behind it and there were plenty of times that the crowd outside thinned out a bit as people moved to be in front of the stage to watch the amazing musicians that performed all night long. When I spoke to one of the waitrons at Trieste she said that it was an insanely busy night and that she would be dreaming about making paninis as that is what she did over and over all night.
The booths were fun the sporadic entertainment was engaging, puppeteers, belly dancers with swords on their heads, and on and on.
Cross the street towards MACLA and there are no more booths, but the stage and the events outside Quilt kept peoples interest. Further up the street? Nothing. No sign that said ICA.
I go to the ICA on First Friday, I love their work, and the people who work there. At 8:15 I was completing my first pass through FF and walking into ICA. We were told that they were closing. I thought they were joking, in the winter First Friday is 8 till late and there was a street festival going on less thatn a block away. This just seemed crazy. ICA was also closed from 5-6 as well for dinner before FF.
Why did they close? Well it was said that they only had 150 people through the doors. I understand that the ICA is usually up and running early on FF, and that they were closed during that time (so some of their regular FF crowd may have been turned away) and then closed again at 8:15 as things were getting going on the street.
The ICA knows how to build a crowd and proves it time and again during the month, so what happened here? ICA is not listed on the http://www.southfirstfridays.com/ site nor on the art walk list or the SubZero site. There is no word on their site about SubZero (or about First Friday) either. So with no email announcements, nothing on the street and closing for dinner there was only 150 people come through the doors fifteen minutes after First Friday usually starts.
The obvious thing is that this was not just a usual FF for the ICA either, as normally there would have been some publication by email or on their website. The worst thing is that this was the MFA show. I know several people who were looking forward to seeing the Lift Off show (again?) myself included.
Is the ICA part of First Friday anymore?
When the waters of local arts rise all boats are pushed up. The city of San José still suffers from being looked at as the bastard step child of San Francisco and something sure seems to be planned. Beyond the obvious the crowd wandering in off the street is getting no information.
So when was the decision made? The person who greeted us and told us that an “executive decision” had been made to close made it sound like a spur of the moment thing, but the lack of notice or connection to SubZero or First Friday indicates something else.
Galleries have been closed in the past on First Friday, most notably during show changes but that is announced ahead of time. It would have been more difficult to announce that they were closed given the MFA show. I know how much Cherri pesters galleries to get their information in to be published for First Friday, and ICA is not included in the email or the website which cannot be an accident.
[edit 1: June 6-12:20 – my friend was not asked to leave during the dinner break, which aligns with the fact that I really do like all the people at the ICA, I just don’t know what the game is or what the purpose of the game is.]
[edit 2: June 6-12:55 – it was also pointed out that I may be unduly harsh, I have to admit that I dashed this off the day after and did not consider this too much, I am de-harshifying certain areas. I want to also be clear that I love what the ICA brings to First Friday and am saddened to see them closing early and not getting involved. I wanted to see the show! And I want to see the ICA remain a part of first Friday, or at least tell their audience what is going on (not just fade out quietly). ]
[edit3: June 7- 22:56 – this is overly harsh and perhaps even a bit mean, I let my emotions get the better of me here, but this feels like some sort of strategy. As time passes I am not so irritated.]
[edit4: June 8-23:50 – I had some time to think about it and my tone was over the top and even a little mean and mean spirited. I have a followup post to make, but I think the post is more clear. As an explanation I wrote this when I was still upset about it, and managed to learn something from this post even now which is why I am taking the time to write, I will make mistakes and will even claim that I am entitled to make mistakes once. Too often the internet is just full of hate and it is easy to fall into that after reading it. That is not what I want to be, I am sorry for the hate that bubbled out in my anger.]